Why can only some priests be married?

Why is it that the Catholic Church/Pope condones the marriage of some priests (i.e. those who have coverted to the Catholic faith), but does not allow a life-long Catholic priest to marry? I don’t understand the reasoning. If the Catholic Church allows priests to marry/remain married, then in essence, they are validating and condoning the marriage of priest. What is the Catholic Church’s justification for not allowing priest to marry? It is these contradictions that test my faith, but it is God’s answers that strengthen it.

Dear MF,

Rest assured if God is calling a man to be married and to be a priest, it will happen! The Eastern Churches that are in union with Rome do ordain married men.

We are told that the apostles were all most likely married. Jesus was celibate. Since the tenth century the rule in the Western Church has been to have a celibate clergy for the most part. Currently, exceptions are made for some non-Catholic clergy who join the Catholic Church. But these are exceptions.

The goal of Christian marriage, as with all the sacraments, is ultimate union with God. This is also true of celibacy. In fact, the celibate priest enters into that union here and now. Such a way of life speaks of God’s goodness in a very compelling and concrete way. God is worth giving oneself so completely!

Of course, the secular culture in which we live, doesn’t understand this. But those with faith, recognize it for the act of love that it is.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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